Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Louis XVI Chairs: Strip Search

Today was a snow day.  I don't want to talk about it.   Every time I do, people leave me comments about how it's 70 degrees here, 85 degrees there or that they're sitting on the beach; they're picking their first crop of snowdrops or planting their sweet peas.  So I'm just going to sit here in my igloo and be happy.

I wanted a diversion from shoveling and painting windows so I decided to strip the Louis XVI chairs I bought on ebay and search for some inspiration for their makeover.  The welting must have been glued on with gorilla glue and there must have been a thousand staples  in the upholstery.  It took me a few hours with a screwdriver and pliers to get the job done.

And here he is stripped down.  Isn't it a huge improvement?  They remind me...

...of the Louis XVI chair from Wisteria found here.

I tend to want to change paint colors, drapes, duvet covers, pillows, etc., every few years so I'd like to keep them fairly neutral.


I'm thinking that a medium gray with a neutral linen would look great with the new wood and zinc pedestal table.  But I'd love to put some pattern on that opening on the back.

I've been thinking that I'd like to use a light with a more contemporary drum shade over the table.  Except for the table, I really love this room.  I love the light, the bookcases, the window seat and I even find the lucite chairs with grain sack cushions an interesting juxtaposition.  I really don't dislike the table, but it might be nicer for my imaginary summer home in Spruce Head, Maine.

The metallic finish is interesting and I love the combination of gray and brown (in the floor).

The boys love them too!  

I think I'll go get some paint this weekend if I can get out of my igloo.  A few light glazes might be all they need.

Any suggestions?

(To Mommy of 3:  Thank you for all your great comments!  You don't have an e-mail address attached to your profile so I have no way to respond to you.  If you'll leave me a comment with your e-mail, or send me an e-mail to I'll be happy to get back to you.)


  1. I think your chairs will be beautiful. I really think the grey and linen combo have such a timeless and classic look. Maybe you could do a monogram on the backs of the chairs. Just my 2 cents worth. And it's freezing here! 28 degrees!! They're talking a possibility of snow!!! We've had rolling blackouts today to help Dallas out with the power situation. I thought I'd left the cols winter weather behind when I left Boston on Friday. Yuck!

  2. Maybe we should have a special club for those of us in snow country. Your chair is fabulous! I love your kitties too, they don't mind being photographed!

  3. I'm frozen too so I sympathize with you! My front door was frozen shut this morning and the high was 5 degrees!
    To the chairs....I LOVE the color of the wood. Maybe a little glaze but I think the color of them is just perfect, especially if you do a neutral linen. I like the backs that an option?
    You have timeless taste - I like all the other inspiration you found also, all different styles but I can envision them all together in an urban cottage.

  4. hi steveo,

    now you're gonna get everyone telling you how cold they are!

    well the chairs are awesome in an igloo or not. i love your idea of the linen with just a bit of glaze on the chairs. as for the backs? what about another pattern you'll use in the room? a pale grey? whatever. it's gonna be gorg i just know it.



  5. If they were mine, and I wish they were, I'd paint them a warm, silvery grey, and cover them in burlap (front) and gentleman's fabric (back)- (camel hair, tweed, herringbone) for a real high/low effect...stay warm!....k

  6. The chairs are gorgeous. You could do a wide stripe on the back and a subdued neutral on the front. What ever you choose it will be in your usual good taste. By the way, have you've been outside. It is freezing. My dog doesn't even want to go out and she's a lab.

  7. I love these chairs, Steve. What a great find! I like your idea of washing them with soft gray and then using a neutral but textured upholstery. You have such a great eye--whatever you decide is bound to be perfect.

    And I love the photo of your cats! At first I thought the one in the back was a cut-out. The guy in the front looks a bit alarmed...

  8. steveo,
    I'm with saraho on this.... why do you need to paint the chairs?? they look great as is, maybe a glaze only?? or my answer to most of life's tough issues.... diluted burnt umber paint as a wash! burnt umber is a gift from god!!!
    your fabric choices sound wonderful! did you hit the handkerchief company on the way to maine?

    your boys are adorable! ella wants to play, she luvs cats. likes to give them kisses on the noses!

    now, STEP AWAY from the chairs and go work on that skirt!!! ;)


  9. Yeah! You decided to tackle those babies yourself. What did you do with the guts of the back? I'm assuming it had webbing or something in it? I love multiple fabrics on chairs like this. I agree with everyone else -- you have such great taste, they will be beautiful!

  10. Charlotte,
    It looks like the front cats is looking out the window. My maple tree is out there and I'll bet he just spotted a squirrel.

    No webbing. There's a stiff, fiberous disk and a layer of cotton batting that goes between the two layers of fabric. I should be able to do them if I can make the double welting cord. No harm trying.

    Sarah, Janet and Joan,
    The paint is a pale yellow that doesn't come across in the photo. I'd really like them to be darker and more neutral.

  11. Ok...Igloo boy...first off you need to send that kitty pic to pets on furniture at the desire to inspire blog. Stat!

    Secondly...I won't even mention weather. Zip.

    And C...I am with those above, just a dark glaze, or burnt umber. I like the idea of a monogram...a stripe...or maybe a number on the back.

    Now...back to shoveling. The greatest workout...

    ...I hear.

  12. Steve,
    Love the idea of a pattern on the back of the chairs. And love the boys, too. They look like Trouble (yes, with a capital T)!

  13. You have beautiful taste! Your house is gorgeous and I can really "see" where you are going in your design. I heard about you from The Polished Pebble. I am wondering if you might like the blog Velvet and Linen. She has a store and her taste is similiar to yours. Look forward to seeing your progress.


  14. Karin,
    Those boys can certainly be trouble. One of them is fascinated by water and is in the shower with me almost every day now. He leaves little wet footprints all over the hardwood floors.

    Thank you for your lovely comments. I do subscribe ro Velvet and Linen. I love her look and find her blog a great source of inspiration. Thanks for stopping by.


  15. I love the last shot of the "boys" (and all your ideas for the chairs.) I know the'll come out great.

  16. The chairs are doppelgangers for the Wisteria ones! I love the idea of linen with maybe a neutral pattern backer. I just picked up some mohair-ish this past weekend on super deluxe sale at a fabric outlet and am hoping to cover a chair with it. A taupe mohair would also be lovely on your chairs and would keep your neutral color scheme. ANYWAY…can’t wait to see what you do!

  17. Beautiful chairs Steve! Isn't it funny that no matter what project we start, the kitty's always take ownership!!
    Its great to see you are using your snow day creatively. Spring.... soon..... please! Have a great weekend. Susan :)

  18. I cannot wait to see the fiished product! :)

  19. i love your enthusiasm for all sorts of projects that would leave me trembling. i know your chairs will look great, whichever direction you go.

    the pic of your cats is too adorable.

    my imaginary vacation home is a small flat in paris.

    and what a great way to spend the snow day! been thinking of you and other friends in the boston area.

  20. Ok, so you avoided the snow comments by not talking about the snow but now you post cat pictures and it is all I can think about. I love your cats. They are too funny. Why do cats always have to sit exactly in the middle of your project. When I am reading in bed, my cat Biscuit always likes to come and sit directly on my chest right in front of what I am reading, about 2" away from my face.

    Ok, so about the chairs. They are gorgeous. Yes, just stick with the classic Gustavian look, all grey and natural linen-y and it will be amazing. I want to suggest a brilliant pattern for the back, but I don't know from patterns really.

    I do like graphic stuff, two colour, like some of Windsor Smith's. I am thinking of using her Riad pattern on something...

    Happy upholstering!


  21. I promise no comments on weather. I'm loving those chairs - and I think they kick some Wisteria butt - just saying. And I think your kitties represent perfectly how a little touch of brown might look. : )


  22. What chairs???? I'm still stuck on your photo from the roof and the snow. I promise to not whine about 36 degrees in the AM any more, well at least online.

    OK I admit it, I lust after the chairs. Can there be chair lust, or is that naughty?

  23. No weather happening HERE!!!! I love a fun large print on the back of chairs, I say go for it!!! Kathysue

  24. Well, I'm bracing for tonight's storm! AWESOME, BRING IT ON! I've cracked . . . back to your chairs. How about a paisley on the front and a stripe on the back? Or stripe on the front and a houndstooth on the back? I love paisley and houndstooth, they may even look great together. For fabric, silk would be fantastic, however it may be expensive, you may have to do some traveling to some of the local shops for the fabric such as Calico Corners in Acton, or Exeter Handkerchief Co. in Exeter, NH. Good luck, can't wait to see the finished product!

  25. Your chairs are wonderful Steve. I have seen so much "deconstructed" furniture lately. Especially on the backs of chairs. It's really interesting. What about using upholstry webbing on the backs and then doing a grey linen on the front and seats. You could use the webbing for the welt too on the seat and arms. Using a double welt on this type of chair looks great too. Oh dear Lord...sorry!

    I love your cats....are they real?

    xo Kelley

  26. I am so sorry it's so cold, a perfect time to do your projects! The chairs in fact. Let us know the out come. The roof pictures had me laughing (sorry). My heart goes out to you.

  27. I love the chair with the metallic finish. It adds a fun twist to a classic chair!
    Be sure to stop by my blog to see the latest project- a window display!
    Happy February,

  28. I don't believe we've met, but I've seen you around town.

    I'll be having an official flowers in the house party on the 28th of February. If you can get out of your rather beautiful igloo by then, please join us.

    Now I'm off to read more.


  29. I have a chair frame similar to this. Currently the fabric is an awful black/silver print (it came that way via a good deal not by my choice). The frame is a gray & silver leaf glaze. I haven't recovered it yet because I'm still deciding on my options. I've thought about a very light blue/gray linen or even a soft matt leather in white or palomino, but would love to have some pattern. Looking foward to how you solve this one.

  30. Enjoy your blog! AND discovered we are neighbors to boot! We too have an imaginary house in Spruce Head, ME... What a great place!

  31. Hi!! Here is my email address: Hope you are getting warmer up there in Cambridge??
    How are the chairs coming along.
    Today I made a valentine tree out of limbs and my girls cut out hearts for the "tree".

    I am so not a craft person. I was walking around a craft store and started cracking up .."what am I doing with my life that I am in a craft store called Hobby Lobby to boot, making a valentine tree"...LOL

    anyway..hope all is well. Cheri

  32. PS..I have to start a blog so you can see my louie chair. I have all my pictures on facebook.
    I started today and it took me over an hour for the top part.

    There were 500 billion staples and mine was glued too!! I didn't attempt the seat yet.

  33. Love those chairs Steve! They really are going to be great. I think it is wise to do a neutral. Maybe an antiqued silver could be added in smidges? I am suggesting you take Nitas gnome table and add it to your imaginary summer home table. They go together!

  34. Love these chairs! I also saw your comments on for the love of the house about you discovering your ancestors lived so incredible and heart warming! Wow! Anyway, newer to blogging and having a ball.....please visit my new blog about the building of our new home and my love for decor....doing a first giveaway and you will laugh when you see it, a chair that looks remarkably similiar to the one featured!

    Have a great day.

  35. What great chairs! I can't wait to see what you do with them. And look at those silly boys!

  36. WAOUW, those are lovely cats.
    Your cats are really big,
    As i saw in your early post, you are trying some colors in your rooms. How about some dabble of red to these lovely chairs. I think they will add some glamour to your room. Those pomegranate have a lovely hue of red on them that will look great.
    You have me as a follower now.
    Like your blog and the way you write your thoughts.
    Regards all the way from Lebanon.